PHOTO COURTESY OF JACKSONVILLE ATHLETICS

Early 2023 Rankings: Nos. 20-16 (Division I Men)


All of Division I’s head coaching positions are filled. The rush to the transfer portal has come and (mostly) gone. And while there’s the pesky variable of who exactly is going to take advantage of the pandemic blanket waiver from 2020 and extend their career another year, most teams are pretty well set.

Which means now is as good a time as any to roll out the annual Early Top 25. Each day this week, we’ll roll out a five-team segment to set the table on the 2023 season long before the first whistle blows in the dead of winter.

Also considered (alphabetical): Robert Morris, Saint Joseph's, Stony Brook, UMass

Early 2023 Rankings

Division I Men
No. 25 - No. 21
No. 20 - No. 16
No. 15 - No. 11
No. 10 - No. 6
No. 5 - No. 1
Division I Women
No. 25 - No. 21
No. 20 - No. 16
No. 15 - No. 11
No. 10 - No. 6
No. 5 - No. 1

"Navy has made unquestionable progress over the first three years of coach Joe Amplo’s tenure."


20. NAVY

2022 record: 9-6 (5-3 Patriot)

Last seen: Recovering from a midseason wobble with a three-game winning streak, only to sputter in a 14-8 loss to Lehigh in the Patriot League quarterfinals.

Initial forecast: Considering how much the Midshipmen had to replace at the defensive end going into last season, a 9-6 season with victories at Johns Hopkins (for the first time since 1969) and Army would have looked pretty good at the start of February. And while the early exit in the Patriot League tournament was disappointing, Navy has made unquestionable progress over the first three years of coach Joe Amplo’s tenure. It might be on the cusp of a breakout, having graduated just one full-time starter (attackman Nick Cole). The offense has four 20-goal scorers back, led by Patrick Skalniak (28 goals, 20 assists), while defenseman Jackson Bonitz and goalie Pat Ryan (.530 save percentage) are among several figures on defense. The Mids were a sub-.500 faceoff team, and not the most efficient bunch on offense (26.6 percent shooting), but some incremental progress would be enough to nudge them into the top 20 — and possibly to a Patriot League title.








19. RICHMOND

2022 record: 11-5 (4-1 Southern)

Last seen: Nearly breaking through for the program’s first NCAA tournament victory before Penn rallied to force overtime and then promptly scored the winning goal in an 11-10 triumph to bounce the Spiders from the postseason.

Initial forecast: The door finally closed on Ryan Lanchbury’s college career, but not before an 81-point season that helped him finish his time at Richmond with 162 goals and 131 assists. The Spiders surrounded him with plenty, too, and the return of Dalton Young after a 39-goal, 23-assist season means Richmond’s offense will be on solid ground. The more intriguing development here is the establishment of Atlantic 10 men’s lacrosse, with full league members Richmond, UMass, St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s joining with Hobart and High Point to create a six-team circuit. In aggregate, it’s a more rigorous one than the disintegrated Southern Conference, but Richmond’s willingness to take on all comers early in the season should make this transition a bit smoother. There will be some work to do to overcome some losses at the defensive end this season, so the Spiders aren’t a far-and-away favorite to get back to the NCAA tournament. Still, they’ve established themselves as a rock-solid top-20 type of program, which makes this initial placement apropos heading into 2023.

18. DENVER

2022 record: 9-6 (4-1 Big East)

Last seen: Nearly climbing out of a six-goal hole in the fourth quarter of the Big East semifinals against Villanova, only to have its NCAA tournament hopes halted when the Wildcats survived 15-14.

Initial forecast: In an odd way, normal has returned to the Mile High City. The Pioneers, whose roster numbered in the mid-60s two years ago, won’t have any fifth-year players this season (though Alex Simmons will continue a Division I career at Syracuse). Bill Tierney would like another bit of normality to resurface for his team — playing deep into May. It didn’t happen last spring as the Pioneers struggled to get traction in non-conference play, and Denver remained without a Big East tournament title after its early exit against Villanova. Goals leader Jack Hannah graduated, but the Pioneers will have a pair of first team all-Big East picks back in attackman JJ Sillstrop (30 goals, 18 assists) and defenseman Jack DiBenedetto. There aren’t questions at the faceoff X or in the cage, yet with five of its top six scorers gone, this Denver team might have as much to prove as any since Tierney’s first season. That no doubt suits the wily old coach just fine.




PHOTO COURTESY OF BOSTON UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS


17. BOSTON UNIVERSITY

2022 record: 12-5 (7-1 Patriot)

Last seen: Falling 12-5 at Princeton in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a quick exit in the program’s first postseason trip.

Initial forecast: One of the sport’s best stories this past spring, the Terriers shook off a history of late-season fades and plugged away to their first Patriot League title. At the same time, Boston University found its level; the Terriers went 0-4 against teams that made the NCAA tournament and 12-1 against those that didn’t (with the loss a one-goal setback against Army that could be pinned on Brendan Nichtern’s 10-point day). In addition to bringing back eight players for a fifth season, the Terriers’ senior class will also include top scorer Vince D’Alto (45 goals, 30 assists) and long pole Roy Meyer, who led the country with 58 caused turnovers. There should be plenty of parity in the top half of the Patriot League, and Lafayette has a chance to be an intriguing team in 2023. But for the moment, the dogged Terriers should be favored to repeat given how much is back and just how effective they were at both ends of the field last season.

16. JACKSONVILLE

2022 record: 14-3 (5-0 Southern)

Last seen: Having its hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time denied with a 10-9 loss to Richmond in the swansong of Southern Conference lacrosse.

Initial forecast: The Dolphins made a splash in the transfer portal last year, so it’s little wonder they went back to the same route to bolster their roster this offseason. Among the newcomers are attackmen Dylan Watson (58 goals at Georgetown) and Brandon Galloway (24 goals in 2021 at UMBC) and defensive midfielder Cole Daninger (a key piece of Rutgers’ rope unit). But it’s not as if coach John Galloway is only playing transfer roulette. Jacksonville’s top scorers beyond grad student Max Waldbaum were Jacob Greiner (51 goals, 18 assists) and Jackson Intrieri (31 goals, 30 assists), and both should continue to thrive as the Dolphins move into the Atlantic Sun. Jacksonville won’t have the benefit of being a surprise team after their early-season stunners at Duke and Denver. It shouldn’t matter. Last year established the Dolphins as a credible NCAA tournament threat, and despite the disappointment of the Southern Conference title game loss, Galloway’s bunch is well-positioned to make a postseason breakthrough in 2023.


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